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Introduction to Character Area Planning

CityShape 2020 Summary Report (pdf/703kb/14pp)

What Are Character Areas?

Character Areas are areas of the community that have achieved a unique, recognizable, character that is different from neighboring areas. These differences may be the result of topography, age and style of housing, built environment, land use patterns, landscaping, street patterns, open space, or streetscapes.

 

Why Area Character Area Plans Important for the Community?

Character Areas are areas of the community that have achieved a unique, recognizable, character that is different from neighboring areas. These differences may be the result of topography, age and style of housing, built environment, land use patterns, landscaping, street patterns, open space, or streetscapes.

 

How do Character Area Plans relate to the Zoning Ordinance, the General Plan,and other City Policies?

Scottsdale’s General Plan has three interrelated functions:

  1. It is an expression of community goals and priorities;
  2. It is a guide to decision-making; and
  3. It fulfills legal requirements created by state law.Some of the components of the General Plan are: Land use, Transportation, Environment, Safety, Public Services, Housing, etc.

The General Plan Form and Function

Image of city, area, and neighborhood plans and how they interactLevel 1 - Citywide

  • Broad citywide guiding principles to guide the physical development of the community
  • Discussion on Community Form
  • Establishment of Character Plan Approach
  • Creates the overall skeleton (economic, transportation, etc.)
  • Administrative policies/guidelines

Level 2 - Character Plans

Note: The City is divided into 10-20 character areas

  • Vision and Role of Character Area
  • Strategic Plan for Character Area
  • Focuses on Implementation

Level 3 - Neighborhood Plans

  • Detailed, specific level of planning
  • Small geographic area
  • Action Focused (Opportunity, Problem Solving)

What is the process for developing a Character Area Plan?

The process of developing a Character Area study involves five key activities:

  1. Background Research - Collection of a wide range of information and existing plans for the area, such as environmental, land use, and historical information. Furthermore a definition of housing types and age, design themes, street design, business/industry structure and pattern, and ownership conditions in the area are needed for the background research. This establishes and creates an important base of insight and information for the area upon which dialogue about future plans can be derived.
  2. Issues and Goals Identification - Confirmation of concerns, desires, and perceptions of those who live , own property, or work in the area. Formation of these priorities helps to create consensus regarding the direction of the planning process.
  3. Alternative Plans - Explore and assess various ways to achieve the desired goals. Often plans include trade-offs and considering different ways to achieve the stated goals can help in deciding which route is best.
  4. Final Recommendations - Presentation of final recommendations via formal and informal public hearings.
  5. Implementation - It is important that the planning not end as a little-used document sitting on a shelf when carrying out the final recommendations of the plan. Rather these plans will become the basis for further action to carry out the goals of the plan.

Citizen involvement is encouraged in all phases of the Character Area process.

What will result from Character Area Plans?

  1. A comprehensive set of Policies, Guidelines and Recommendations on a wide range of subjects (such as land use patterns, transportation, public utilities, landscaping, architecture, and drainage).

    These Policies, Guidelines, and Recommendations will reflect:

    • Visions for the future of the area
    • Expectations of the community
    • Aspirations of the residents of the area
  2. A strategy for implementing those Policies, Guidelines, and Recommendations

    Implementation may include:

    • Prioritized methods and means to be employed (ordinance amendments, design standards, process changes, etc.)
    • Actions required to carry out recommendations (City Council, Stipulations of the Boards and Commissions, etc.)

Implementation of Character Plans may take many different routes:

CAR Implementation Methods Graphic

 

Character Area Studies Help to Promote:

A higher awareness by the entire community of the value of the physical character of the city and its many parts.

  • General awareness of the character of individual areas of the community and how they fit together and contribute to the overall community.
  • Inclusion of “character” as a consideration for private and public decisions within the area.
  • A more complete and more commonly understood vocabulary of the major character elements for an area.
  • Higher prioritization of projects promoting character issues in the City Budget.
  • A basis for networking by area residents and business owners.
  • Wider acceptance of the visual and functional differences of varying neighborhoods within the city.


Planning and Development Services

Phone: 480-312-7800
Fax: 480-312-7088
planninginfo@scottsdaleaz.gov

7447 E. Indian School Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251